Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The American public must see images of violence from military engagements and terrorist attacks in which lives - even American lives - are lost, writes The Intercept's Peter Maass. Because images of dead Americans have been kept from the public, we have not yet had to fully deal with the "depravity of war." According to Maass:
This censorship has spawned an odd blowback. By shielding us from disturbing imagery, our government (and editors who shy away from gore) may have made us all the more vulnerable when we finally see dead Americans. This is not an abstract theory. The two disastrous invasions of Falluja during the Iraq War were sparked by pictures of the bodies of four American contractors hanging from one of the town’s bridges in 2004. It wasn’t the event itself so much as the pictures that launched such destructive fury. Confronted with these stark but complicated images, we tend to respond with a primal scream, as The New York Post did with its identical headlines for both the Falluja desecrations in 2004 and the Islamic State beheadings a decade later: “Savages.”
In the case of the Islamic State, some of the outrage is explained by the perverse pride the killers take in distributing the evidence of their crimes. But we are on a slippery slope with this indignation, because we have our own macabre mechanism for broadcasting the deaths of our supposed enemies — Central Command recently began tweeting out links to videos of air strikes in Iraq. As human rights groups have amply documented, a large number of civilians have been killed by American drones. Many Americans look at those videos and think, Got the bad guys, job well done. How many Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis or Yemenis look at those same videos, remind themselves of the women and children killed, and say, What savages?
In the end, it is a strange twist: Instead of pushing us away from war, as the Vietnam generals feared, images of American casualties are now driving us into the vortex. Would seeing more of it really help? Instead of reasoned discussion, might there be more howls for revenge? Or might there be shrugs of seen-it-before indifference, as Susan Sontag warned in her 2002 New Yorker essay, “Looking at War?” I wish we didn’t have to ask these questions — that there were no loathsome images to flash on our screens — and I wish we didn’t have a responsibility to look and think deeply. But we do, if the depravity of war is to be understood and, hopefully, dealt with.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
"While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional protections as speech itself," Stevens said. "After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglary, actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment."
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The question of whether the First Amendment protects the right of the press to conceal the identity of anonymous sources could return to the Supreme Court. The title of this post comes from this National Law Journal article, which explains:
Lawyers for a New York Times reporter tangled up in a fight with federal prosecutors urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to undo an appeals court ruling that would force his testimony in a CIA leak prosecution.
A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in July overturned a trial judge's ruling that would have allowed James Risen to keep secret the source of information in his book about the George W. Bush administration and intelligence agencies. Risen's book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," included details about the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.
Prosecutors want Risen to testify in the government's case against former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling in federal district court in Alexandria, Va. Sterling is accused of leaking information to Risen about Iran's nuclear weapons program. He was arrested in January 2011 on charges that included disclosure of national defense information and obstruction of justice.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema determined that to "require a reporter to violate his confidentiality agreement with his source under these facts would essentially destroy the reporter's privilege." Brinkema quashed the trial subpoena.
Chief Judge William Traxler of the Fourth Circuit concluded, however, that journalists do not enjoy a First Amendment privilege "that protects reporters from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in." Delivering a win to the U.S. Department of Justice, the court voided Brinkema's decision.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Allegedly illegal strip searches in Milwaukee jail could cost the city millions; man acquitted of drug charges files a civil rights suit against FBI alleging malicious prosecution; police face civil rights suit after officer pleads guilty to child porn; jail staff knew diabetic woman in their care needed insulin perhaps days before she died; Miami Gardens police allegedly used excessive force and denied medical treatment to arrestee; and, man was killed by a police officer who had accidently been tased by another officer.
Atlantic says Obama misled MSNBC's Chris Matthews on NSA surveillance; Guardian reflects on how the debate over surveillance has changed since Snowden's leaks; Nobel-winning writers say NSA surveillance is compromising freedom; Bill Clinton worries about the NSA's collection of economic data; and, NSA makes tech companies worry about profits.
Federal judge holds journalists have no constitutional right to be embedded with military; and, ACLU says prison officials violated the First Amendment by denying reporters access to prisoners after a riot.
Gun manufacturers doing better than before Newtown.
December 10, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, Gun Policy, Prisons and Prisoners, Same-sex marriage, Strip Searches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Revelations about the extent of the NSA's surveillance program could put international data-sharing agreements at risk; federal judge hears arguments regarding the release of DOJ documents on the legality of NSA's surveillance program; The Atlantic explores the inception of the NSA; and, Microsoft will change encryption to prevent NSA surveillance.
Texas National Guard will allow same-sex couples to apply for benefits immediately; gay teen banned from mall at which he allegedly was attacked; Kentucky couple fined one cent for remaining in county clerks office after closing time to protest same-sex marriage ban; and, judge okays terminally ill woman's request to marry her female partner before Illinois same-sex marriage law becomes effective.
Colorado Democrat resigns after gun-rights advocates successfully petition for her recall; and, Plain Dealer guest columnist argues that Ohio legislature should pass gun-safety laws to prevent children from accessing guns.
Voters claim Lousiana segregated African Americans into one racially-gerrymandering congressional district.
SCOTUS to hear arguments as to constitutionality of ACA's contraceptive rule; and, it will consider the First Amendment rights of Bush protesters alleging official's attempts to disperse them were not supported by valid security interests.
November 27, 2013 in Department of Justice, Election Law, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, Gun Policy, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The title of this post comes from this Washington Post article reporting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is unlikely to face criminal charges for releasing classified documents. The article begins:
The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.
The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been made, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top-secret military and diplomatic documents.
“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”
Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Authorities in New Mexico face another lawsuit over allegedly illegal body-cavity searches, as do police in Milwaukee.
Medical marijuana distributor files a civil rights lawsuit alleging that authorities targeted him for his "outspoken advocacy" of local taxation of medical marijuana.
Same-sex marriage will be legal in Hawaii when the governor signs legalization bill into law later this week.
Guardian editor will face questioning by British lawmakers for publication of NSA leaks.
3-D printer makes gun, raises production concerns.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to employ 'one or two' drones in surveillance of Pheonix area.
NPR says Texas voter-ID law is unexpectedly making voting difficult for some women.
Support growing in the Senate for Employment Anti-Discrimination Act (ENDA) banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and an Ohio funeral home wants gay marriages recognized on death certificates.
Planned Parenthood says Iowa ban on telemedicine system used for dispensing abortion pills prevents rural access to needed medical services and asks judge to suspend the ban.
Egyptian military tribunal sentences a journalist to one year in prison for allegedly impersonating a military officer.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The Supreme Court will re-examine mental disability standards used to determine eligibility for death penalty.
Gov. Jindal condemns DOJ for denying request of four families to join state as defendants in civil rights case.
Des Moines Register editorial questions interrogations by state troopers during traffic stops.
In Iowa, former state employees allege "culture of discrimination and retaliation" in the workplace.
The Atlantic documents Sen. Wyden's efforts to reform the NSA's surveillance program.
Glenn Greenwald speaks with Newsweek about NSA leaks, governmental abuse of power, and future plans.
Sen.-elect Booker says he looks forward to working with Sen. Paul and others on reforming drug laws.